Emma Lord
Updated Mar 23, 2015 @ 10:05 am

Can we talk about how awesome the world is getting at trying to make coding more accessible to students? A few years ago it might have been a stretch for high schoolers to get into a computer science class, but now that Arkansas is the first state to legally require high school students to offer a coding class, it looks like the education system is taking a step in the right direction. The classes will debut as early as this August, and the requirement covers all public and charter schools in the state.

The program, which cost $5 million to launch, is expected to inspire other states to follow suit. President Obama has been very vocal about his goals to making coding classes available to students nationwide.

“What is true is… that our lead will erode if we don’t make some good choices now,” said President Obama to Re/code’s Kara Swisher in February. “We’ve got to have our kids in math and science, and it can’t just be a handful of kids. It’s got to be everybody. Everybody’s got to learn how to code early.”

For Arkansas schools that can’t manage to spare the extra space for the class, the classes will be taught online. “By passing this bill, Arkansas will become a national leader in computer-science education,” said governor Asa Hutchinson, whose campaign focused heavily on computer education.

With so much emphasis on jobs in the tech industry, a bill like this can’t come soon enough. A recent projection shows jobs in IT steadily rising to a growth of 22% by the year 2020, so learning to code makes students more hirable out of school than ever. A program like this would be essential to making those opportunities more accessible to women and minorities in the tech industry, who are already underutilized in the field due to lack of educational resources.

At present only one out of ten schools in the nation offers computer science courses, so here’s hoping that this is one big step in the direction of inspiring other states to follow suit.

(Image from here.)